The Keller baseball team has shown it has ample offense when needed, but as with most teams, the concern is whether there’s enough quality pitching for a playoff spot and a deep run this season.
The Indians, through Friday’s 5-2 win over Central, were 13-5-1 and 1-1 in District 4-5A. In those 19 games, Keller is averaging almost seven runs per game.
They are giving up just over 5.5 runs per game.
But all you need to win is to have one more run than your opponent.
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To help make that happen this season, Keller has a strong contingent of returning players but it is balanced by youth, also.
Keller head coach Rob Stramp said the team is experienced and young at the same time.
“We have three sophomores starting and three seniors,” Stramp said. “We’re still fairly young, which shows sometimes. The challenge is to field test the young kids in the 17 non-district games which are jammed into three weekends. It’s raised some questions and answered some questions.”
The performances of the non-district contests ran the gamut in Stramp’s analysis.
“We saw some of the good, the bad and the ugly and injuries put us in a bit of a lurch in terms of our lineup,” Stramp said. “We had games where we got blown out and had some good games. Going into district we never know what’s going to happen.”
Some of that uncertainty has as much to do with the balance of the district’s strength as much as it does with the play of the Indians.
Keller does have two returning pitchers who were top performers for the Indians last season.
“The key for us is going to be the pitching,” Stramp said, acknowledging that aspect of the game is critical for most every baseball team. “We’ll be good if we can we go out there and put some zeros on the board and give the offense a chance to get going. We’ve had great offensive teams in the past but it’s tough to win unless you have pitching.
“We can outscore some people occasionally but (the pitching) will have to give us a chance. I tell our pitchers they don’t have to pitch shutouts,” Stramp said.
Chandler Carter returns to the mound for Keller as the only true returning starting pitcher. Stramp said Carter threw well last year and kept the Indians in several games.
Players adding depth at pitcher for Keller include Riley Coover, who pitched in some of the non-district schedule last year, and senior Matt Haake, who was a junior varsity starter. Stramp said there are a few other arms on the team which should develop as time goes on.
Doubt may have risen for Keller following the first district game in an 8-0 shutout by Northwest.
Carter got off to a rough start and the offense never got going.
“We made contact with the ball but never could get anything to show for it,” Stramp said of the offense. Keller struck out just twice to demonstrate the point. “We hit it right at them and it seemed like we were fighting an uphill battle. Our offense was atypical.”
Keller came back for the win over Central as Coover picked up the win.
Others may step up to take the lead, but early on, Shea Langeliers has come on in the fall as a solid hitter for Keller.
Just a sophomore, Langeliers has been in the middle of the order to keep innings going and aid in manufacturing runs.
Keller has Fossil Ridge and Haltom on the schedule for this week and Stramp knows, as it is in the district’s soccer counterpart, a team has to come out ready to play every game.
“Right now, it’s a wide-open district,” Stramp said. “There are a couple of front-runners but it’s going to be interesting since there’s a lot of parity in the district. We’re certainly not a team that won’t roll over people. We’ll need to establish ourselves,” he said.
Many of the teams are expected to be improved, including Northwest, Timber Creek, Richland and, as usual, Carroll.